Thursday, March 18, 2010

MA Thesis Workshop Recap, Scott Campbell

Since many students were unable to attend Draper's most recent MA Thesis Workshop, we've asked a few attendees to share some of the tips and advice that they found most useful during the session. Scott Campbell's write-up is below, and a few more students may contribute their thoughts on the workshop shortly. If you attended the workshop and would be willing to add to this discussion, please let us know!


Reflecting on the Master's thesis workshop, I found several pieces of advice to be particularly useful. The first was when thinking about your topic to come up with three keywords that would describe the major focuses of your paper. These can serve as both frames for your thesis and as suggestions to guide your research, leading to sources that may not deal specifically with your topic, but do engage the keywords in a manner that would benefit your thesis. A second bit of advice was to try to find a source that makes a similar argument to the one you plan to make. This is not to copy the source or to be discouraged, but instead to serve as a guide to what is already out there and can help deepen your ideas. Also, if you can't find a source, reflect on what this might say about your topic. Is it too broad or difficult to be dealt with effectively in 50 pages? Finally, the part that adds an extra layer for my thesis project is the human component. Remember that even if all you are doing is talking to another human being and using that person as a source for your thesis, then you likely need approval from the University Committee on Activities Involving Human Subjects and NYU's Institutional Review Board. Not only will the certification and approval process take some time, but think about the impact it may have on your sources when you present them with a waiver to sign, and also the impact it may have on your thesis if at any time they decide to revoke their participation.

-Scott Campbell

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